Spring Sheep Milk Co and Neptunus Food have signed a strategic co-operation agreement at a ceremony in Beijing, with the stated aim of enabling the New Zealand company to become the leading sheep dairy player in China
Neptunus Food is a subsidiary of Neptunus Group, whose primary business operations include pharmaceutical and health care products. The group was established in 1989 and is based in Shenzhen.
The signing was attended by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.
Spring Sheep chief executive Nick Hammond said the agreement is a major step for the brand.
“We have been exporting into China since July 2020 and the reception to our sheep milk products has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re continuing to invest in this channel through building our brand presence both on the ground and online in the Chinese market,” he said.
The partnership leverages two sets of highly complementary capabilities, Hammond said.
“Spring Sheep has the breed, farms and production capability to make a multi-award-winning sheep milk product range. Neptunus brings the crucial expertise to expand the brand in the China market with an extensive sales and marketing capability alongside deep understanding of the advanced nutrition market.
“We’ve been impressed with the rich consumer insights that the Neptunus team brings to the table, and we are confident that together we can ensure our new product development is closely tailored to capture opportunities in key growth areas, like Seniors advanced nutrition for example,” Hammond said.
Neptunus distribution covers 28 provinces, including 260 distributors and over 16,000 retail outlets.
Spring Sheep general manager – China market Peter Jin said it represents a significant opportunity for its sheep milk products to be able to plug into a sales network of exceptional size and quality.
Neptunus Food chair Huaming Gong said the collaboration holds great importance in advancing the sheep dairy industry in China.
“Our wealth of expertise in new product research and development, operational management, and sales and marketing has fuelled steady and enduring growth over the years. We are thrilled to include a premium range of products in our portfolio and eagerly anticipate developing innovative offerings specifically tailored for the Chinese market.”
Spring Sheep has an early life nutrition range (which has received global recognition), a family nutrition range and a more recently launched seniors’ product, which has been a category leader in sheep and goat milk products in China through online sales platform Tmall.
Spring Sheep Milk Co is a public-private partnership between the state-owned enterprise Pāmu and export-focussed sales and marketing company SLC Group.
It specialises in premium infant formula made from New Zealand sheep milk. It started in 2015 with a single farm and has since grown to become the largest sheep dairy group in the southern hemisphere. It has 17 farms, milking more than 17,000 Zealandia sheep.